The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: Whoah There, Delilah

3 min read


The Plain White T’s predictable penultimate number last Friday was of course, “Hey There Delilah.” Dodd Auditorium became a sea of illuminated cell-phones in mid-call as the sing-along erupted. As the obligatory PDA-fest began to swell among near-by couples, not only did my usual bitterness strike me, but a strong sense of poetic irony as well.
Second only to Rihanna’s “Umbrella”—which was ironically covered by Ill Scarlett, the opening act to the Plain White T’s last Friday, “Hey There Delilah” was, without question, the song of the summer. The song was repeated over and over on every mainstream radio station more times than the “Empire Today” jingle. After reaching number one on iTunes, every last cutesy couple in my social circle deemed the ballad as “their song.”
With lyrics like “Times Square can’t shine as bright as you,” the song is clearly no literary masterpiece. But the simplicity and humility of the melody is hard to detest. “Hey There Delilah” is a good-old fashioned, unpretentious love song—a lost art in today’s sounds of gangster rap and emo cryfests.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to rip my ears out when I realize I can’t get the damn tune out of my head.
What makes the raging cynic in me smirk is the literary and Biblical significance of the song’s namesake. Delilah is the Book of Judges star villainess—the personifaction of betrayal as she cuts Samson’s blessed hair. Delilah embodies the Eve-inspired tempting and deceitful archetype that women have been burdened with for centuries. The tale has inspired many masterpieces of art and literature. Countless musicians, including wordsmiths Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, have penned the allusion of Samson and Delilah in their song lyrics.
Perhaps the composer of “Hey There Delilah” is winking and nodding to this biblical reference as well. The lead singer of the Plain White T’s has fallen as hard as Samson, and we can only infer that the B-side to “Hey There Delilah” will be a rocking rant of heartbroken revenge. Sucker.
After Googling more tidbits about the song, my cynical hopes are crushed as I read an interview from People magazine with the real Deliliah—the overachieving co-ed “Hey There Delilah” was written about. My analysis is defunct: Delilah is not a powerful literary allusion, but rather a girl with a musical sounding-three syllable name, who happened to catch the eye of a future pop-star. The People magazine article also mentions that despite being a real person, Delilah never actually dated the musician who wrote such an intense song for her. Are there any bible stories about stalking?
Most of today’s popular song lyrics are about as shallow and straight-forward as the tweens who post them in their AIM profiles. I blame my Literary Theory class for making me try to think otherwise.
“Hey There Delilah” is nothing but a love song; there is no deeper meaning; and I’m still single.